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Britain appoints first ambassador to Iran in five years

Britain’s new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson [File photo]

Britain has appointed an ambassador to Tehran for the first time since 2011 in an “upgrade” to its diplomatic relations with Iran.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the decision to designate Nicholas Hopton, previously charge d’affaires at the embassy, was “an important moment in the relationship between the UK and Iran”.

Johnson said in a statement on Monday: “The upgrade in diplomatic relations gives us the opportunity to develop our discussions on a range of issues, including our consular cases about which I am deeply concerned, and which I have raised with Foreign Minister [Javad] Zarif.

“I hope this will mark the start of more productive cooperation between our countries, enabling us to discuss more directly issues such as human rights and Iran’s role in the region, as well as ongoing implementation of the nuclear deal and the expansion of the trading relationship between both our countries.”

Ties between the two countries deteriorated in November 2011 after Britain imposed sanctions on Iranian banks over accusations they were assisting Iran’s nuclear program.

Within days, Iran’s parliament voted to expel Britain’s ambassador and protesters stormed the British embassy in Tehran.

The embassy eventually reopened in August 2015 in the wake of an international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.

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